The most surprising result of the recent midterm elections in Mexico has been the apparent divorce between Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and the voter of Mexico (now renamed CDMX). More than half of its territorial divisions have passed into the hands of the opposition, drawing up an electoral map of the city divided in two: in the west the opposition, in the east the party in power. The defeat in the nation’s capital was painful for AMLO for two reasons. First because that is where his political career took off and then because he left his political goddaughter and current mayor Claudia Sheinbaum in a bad position.
His reaction was first disbelief and then denial. How is it possible that the city they think is on the left voted for the right-wing parties? This shows that they do not know where they are: the CDMX does not have a left vocation, but an oppositional vocation.
AMLO HAS A LOT TO CDMX
To begin with, we must underline the importance of CDMX in the political career of AMLO. It was in the capital that the current president obtained his degree in political science, and it was there that he arrived from his native state of Tabasco with his family in 1996 to chair the Left Party of the Democratic Revolution. (PRD), its first nationally recognized position. From this post, he built his candidacy for the presidency of the Federal District (DF) then in 2000, even without fulfilling the five-year residency condition, it must be said.
Once in office, from day one of his administration, he used the spotlight and office resources to position himself politically for the presidency. His strategy was simple: fight every day with the federal government of the right-wing National Action Party (PAN), led by Vicente Fox (2000-2006), even if it was for trivialities like the hour of summer.
In this way, AMLO made Mexico City the first line of opposition to the federal government. The most heated confrontation between the two levels of government came in 2005, when President Fox attempted to remove AMLO from the presidential race. The city then supported its mayor and supported him with massive mobilizations that forced Fox to back down.
But AMLO would pay the ingratitude. After losing the 2006 elections to Felipe Calderón, he blamed the fraud and sent his supporters to block Avenida Reforma as a pressure measure to cancel the elections. During the night, the most elegant avenue of the capital was punctured with blows of sledgehammers and pickaxes to erect tents where their supporters stood guard to force the rupture of the constitutional order. The economic losses for businessmen, traders, employees and restaurateurs in the region were then estimated at 7 billion pesos and the dismissal of more than 3,000 workers.
The 2012 presidential election would come and the city would forgive AMLO for the abuses of 2006, again voting overwhelmingly for it. On this occasion, in the city, he defeated the winning candidate of the election, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), by two votes to one. But AMLO again denounced fraud, even if this time the difference in voices did not give it the strength to lead mobilizations as in 2006.
The story of AMLO and CDMX would not end there. In 2014, he founded his own personal party in the capital, the National Movement for Regeneration (MORENA), with which he rocked the 2018 elections, not only in the city but across the country. Note that MORENA is a party created in CDMX, not in Tabasco or any other state of the republic.
THE LOSS OF CDMX
All of this explains why the loss of space in the capital has been so painful for AMLO, and why he has been insulting the capital’s middle class for weeks for turning his back on him. He is motivated not only by wounded pride, but also by political calculations: Morena’s presidential candidate in pectore for 2024, Mayor Sheinbaum, has been badly affected by the election results.
Sheinbaum is a cold-blooded, more academic policy that contrasts with the President’s bloody, quarrelsome style, but has earned his affection for his absolute loyalty, something the President values above all else. The results, however, showed that their succession and enthronement is not an easy task.
The problem with AMLO and Sheinbaum is that they refuse to see reality. So many years in power have made them believe that the city is “on the left”. They are wrong, the CDMX has an opposition vocation. AMLO and Sheinbaum are confusing one thing for the other.
This opposition vocation is not, moreover, new. In the era of the PRI’s authoritarianism in the 20th century, the city has always been the stronghold of opposition parties, both right and left. By 1976, at the height of the PRI, opposition votes to the CDMX were three times the national average. The same is true after the democratic transition (1976-1996).
The PRD governments of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (1997-2000), AMLO (2000-2005), Marcelo Ebrard (2006-2012) and Miguel Mancera (2012-2018) have always been considered “opposition governments” (a common oxymoron). in Mexico) . These governments were supported by urban citizens who saw in them a healthy counterweight to the federal government of the PAN and later the PRI. Why should things be any different now?
With the results of last June, the CDMX is once again the epicenter of opposition to the federal government. This new reality was difficult for AMLO, who today sees himself as an opponent of the power of the elites. His problem is that the people, and especially the people of the capital, see him less and less as an adversary and more as what he is: an authority. An authority, by the way, that offers a lot of politics, but few results.
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